The new boss of CNN appears to be prepping employees — and on-air talent — for some major changes coming down the pipe in a stark message that sounds an awful lot like firings and lay-offs are in the offing.
CEO Chris Licht’s bleak comments come the same week that Brian Stelter, the soon-to-be-former host of the little-watched weekend offering “Reliable Sources” — which was misnamed to begin with — has gotten the boot, according to reports.
The Daily Wire notes that “Licht started to evaluate the hyper-partisan so-called ‘talent’ at the network shortly after he joined CNN as he aimed to dial down the extreme partisanship that has plagued the network in recent years.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, he told employees during a company-wide phone call on Friday: “I want to acknowledge that this is a time of significant change, and I know that many of you are unsettled. There will be more changes, and you might not understand it or like it.”
Meanwhile, a CNN staffer told Deadline, “No one is safe or secure right now.”
“I think people are legitimately sad that Brian is leaving,” an anonymous person at CNN told the Hollywood Reporter. “He was a big presence at the network — but understand that Chris has to put his stamp on the network.”
The Daily Wire adds:
Deadline reported that billionaire investor John Malone — who is one of the largest investors in CNN’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery — said earlier in the year during an interview that he wanted CNN to “evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists.”
Stelter whined in his newsletter at the time that Malone wanting unbiased reporting at the network “stoked fears that Discovery might stifle CNN journalists and steer away from calling out indecency and injustice.”
One insider relayed to Deadline that the decision to dump Stelter was “coming from above.” The insider added: “If this isn’t coming from John Malone directly, it sure represents his thinking with lieutenants doing his bidding.”
The latest changes come after Licht told CNN staffers and on-air personalities over the summer that there had been a lot of changes in a short amount of time following the ouster of long-time CEO Jeff Zucker, who moved to make the network one of the primary critics of then-President Donald Trump.
“You heard me say in my first town hall that I am going to make decisions slower than some would like,” Licht said at the time. “I know this organization has been through tremendous change over the last four months, which is why I am approaching this process slowly and thoughtfully as we look at all parts of the operation. We will realign where it makes sense to best serve our people and the business.”